The United States has been at war for as long as it has been in existence, a never-ending war on drugs. As far back as the late nineteenth century, the country has been passing laws to ban the use and possession of certain drugs. At the time, opium was the focus, and later, laws were made to ban cocaine. Later, the legal prohibitions would extend to marijuana.
How the War on Drugs in the United States Starts
Politicians are responsible for the decision on what drugs should be illegal and which drugs should not. Therefore, it is not always good scientific research that informs the decision to make a drug illegal. Sometimes, it is just the social pressure that comes with certain perceptions about the people that use certain drugs.
For instance, the connection of drug use to crime is a major reason for making a certain drug illegal. An example is the ban on marijuana, which had a lot to do with the fact that it was most common among Mexican immigrants, who obviously did not find favor in national politics and mainstream culture.
War on Drugs in the US in the 60s
1960s America had its youth see the use of drugs as a means to express rebellion against the political establishment. Obviously, the government had to fight back, and this involved establishing authorities that specifically focused on controlling and preventing drug use and supply. The sentences were made harsher, and more drugs were made illegal. The notion that drugs represent an opposition to established authorities is still strongly held today, at least on some level.
War on Drugs in the United States in the 70s and 80s
In these two decades in America, the use of drugs in the US increased substantially, despite the fact that people were ending up behind bars for petty drug offenses. The government responded with campaigns to discourage people from using drugs. Penalties for using drugs were also increased. The growing number of people getting into jail for drug use made drugs seem like a huge national problem.
Changes to the War on Drugs in the United States
While it generally seems that the list of drugs ending up on the illegal drugs list keeps growing, that is not always the case. For instance, of late, there has been a trend among American states to legalize marijuana. These decisions, unlike those of the past, are founded on scientific research proving that some of the drugs considered illegal actually have quite a number of health benefits to offer.
Today, the government is focusing on a trend whereby the illegality of drugs and the associated sentences are informed by science rather than political and social opinions. There is also a shift in the way people see drugs. While initially the blame was placed on the drug users, nowadays those affected by drugs are seen as victims in need of assistance from the government and other authorities concerned with mitigating the use of illegal drugs.
Some Info on War on Drugs in the United States
– First laws against drugs were passed in 1870s to illegalize opium
– The DARE education program was established in the whole country in the 80s
– More than 50% of Americans think drugs are a major problem in the country
– Drug laws less politicized today than it was in the past
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